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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ten East Guides Robots to Freedom

Here’s what ya need to know... Ten East started up in the mid ‘00s as a semi-improvised outfit and an excuse for old friends to get together, jam it out and put some tunes to tape. It wasn’t long be­fore they caught the ears of Alone Records out of Spain, who then released their debut long player, Extraterrestrial Highway (since re-released by Lexicon Devil: LEXDEV019). On that album, the band was Gary Arce (Yawning Man, Sort of Quartet), Brant Bjork (Kyuss,Fu Manchu, etc.), Mario Lalli (Across the River, Fatso Jetson, etc.) and Bill Stinson (Greg Ginn`s Hor, Chuck Dukowski Sextet). They completed a successful tour of Europe with Greg Ginn (Black Flag, Gone, etc.) filling in on bass for Bjork, then regrouped in late ‘07 to record The Robot’s Guide to Freedom.

The line-up here is a veritable stoner-punk supergroup: Arce, Lalli and Stinson, and joining them are Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obsessed, etc.) on bass; on guitar there is acclaimed six-stringer Bry­an Giles (The Last of the Juanitas, Red Fang, etc.) and Greg Ginn himself with guitar (and or­gan) on almost half the tracks.

Recorded at Ginn’s SST studio over several months, TRGTF sees Ten East branching out in heavier, more aggressive territory than their first release, as well as temper­ing the brute attack with forays into more ethereal space-rock and ‘60s/’70s-style psych jams. The music is a perfect encapsulation of the “scenes” these individual members helped create: the fero­cious punk squawl of Ginn’s frenetic, free-jazz-inspired riffs which set California ablaze some 25 years ago, combined with the scorched desert-rock of stoner pioneers Yawning Man, Fatso Jetson and Kyuss. The music of Ten East is dense, multi-layered and worthy of many repeated listens.

Lead songwriter Gary Arce has the knack for penning a totally non-generic riff - such riffs born from his love of the guitar work of Ginn, Eno, Steve Fisk, surf music and Tom Verlaine - and creating a truly lyrical piece of music, one which makes one forget that Ten East don’t and likely never will require a vocalist. The appearance of Yawning Man, Kyuss, Fatso Jetson, and Black Flag members all in one band should make you stand up and take notice. Anyone into the sounds of such bands, or the manic prog freakouts of early ‘70s King Crimson, the surf twang of the Ventures, the spaced grooves of Guru Guru and Amon Duul, or the pe­yote-fried guitar work of primo Meat Puppets will find something in the music of Ten East.

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